Solo snaps: A cold sunset, a year later

NOTE: I started this post nearly one year ago. I have not hit publish on it, because, frankly, I felt some embarrassment about some of the emotions and reactions I described. They seemed foolish upon reading, and it’s hard for me to seem foolish (even though it happens quite a lot!). But a lot has changed in a year, so I decided to give it another look. 

Oh wow, look at that tree…

Sometimes, my favorite photos are captured when I’m rushing, or being rushed.

This snap happened on day 4 of a multi-day adventure in Fall 2018. The trip spanned North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I was not solo on this day. I had a good friend to travel with.

He and I travel together 2-3 times a year if we’re lucky. We are often treated like a couple, even though we live three time zones apart; that’s just how America is programmed to see a man and a woman traveling together. I won’t lie; it’s nice for all the reasons that you’d imagine (sharing the long drives, and not hearing the hostess say “oh, just one today?” in a cheery but slightly patronizing voice). It also can make for some awkward moments, like just before I took this picture. But let’s back up a little.

Day 4 of this trip was the first day that we did any hiking worthy of the name. I’m talking about hiking that involves going uphill for any length of time. To make a long story short, the hike we did that day kicked my butt. After a tough and stressful year, I was out of shape, and I live at sea level, so it was pretty much a guarantee that I was going to suck wind on the first real uphill.

We’d hiked to Andrews Bald, a few relatively easy miles down to an incredible view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here’s a little taste of a photo shoot that had the other hikers laughing as I ran back and forth from the tripod, trying to balance on the rocks. Please note that Shawn has no problem whatsoever balancing on his rock while I’m falling all over the place. He’s annoying that way. 😉

But as we hiked out, the trail that was downhill on the way in became uphill on the way out (hate it when that happens) and there was a moment where I fought back tears of embarrassment as I realized just how out of shape I truly was. I got through it thanks in large part to the awesomeness of my friend who never makes me feel bad for going slow (I do plenty of that myself).

I tell you all of this to say that I was mentally and physically wobbly – in both good and bad ways – as we drove down the mountain and stopped at an overlook. There was that lovely post-hike high…and the nagging low brought on by self-flagellation and fear that surely my friend was tired of hiking with a slug like me. All these emotions were close to the surface as we pulled into the parking lot at the Newfound Gap overlook.

National Park parking lots tend to be amazing places, and this was no exception. The Appalachian Trail was mere feet away. Blue-tinged mountains echoed on the horizon in never-ending waves. The sun had just gone down, and the light was magic. It was also cold, with a mountain wind to sharpen it.

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We wandered a bit around the parking lot, snapping photos in comfortable silence. There was something resembling a tower, albeit a short one, at the far end of the lot. Though my weary legs protested, we climbed it. At the top I met the eyes of a round, merry-faced woman who was sitting up on a rock wall. She gave me a huge smile, and I noticed the bearded, red-cheeked man sitting next to her. They were side-by-side, bundled up like Santa and Mrs. Claus, atop a cozy-looking blanket, swinging their feet, and without thinking, I blurted out “Oh, you two are so adorable.” They laughed, and we chatted; they were there to watch the moonrise. I offered to take their picture, which they happily let me do. Then they, like most, jumped to conclusions, and said “would you two like a photo for your family album?”

For some reason, that innocent question immediately got to me. What I should have said was “Sure!” and enjoyed adding a nice picture of me and my friend to my collection. Instead, I got flustered and tried to explain that we weren’t a family and…yeah, pretty soon I beat a hasty retreat back to the car.

And then I saw this photo.

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It happened so fast. “Oh wow, look at that tree…” I was freezing, so I didn’t bother with trying to adjust settings. I just saw, pointed, click-click, and then clamored into the car, the hope that I’d caught something special chasing away all of my other thoughts.

I do wish I’d taken a bit more time, maybe taken a few more steps to my right to avoid that big mass of boring pine trees in the right 1/3 of the frame. But those are small quibbles, and did I mention it was freezing up there?

I love this photo, mostly because while I was taking it, all my insecurities disappeared. I was in exactly the right place at the right moment. Many months later, I want to chide myself for being too much in my head, for worrying to much about my solo status, but that’s not fair to what was happening on that day, in that moment. Yes, I know we’re supposed to fake it until we make it, but sometimes, our insecurities are real and they get the better of us. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or pathetic; it just means we’re human.  If we’re lucky, we have friends and amazing views to help shake us out of it…and photos like this to help us remember the moment.

And best of all, we have time and the option to put in the hard work needed to find, or rediscover, our confidence in ourselves. Those of you for whom that doesn’t come easily can understand why I’m proud of finally publishing this post, even though it makes me sound foolish. I love this photo because it’s gorgeous, but also for how it’s helped me realize how far I’ve come in the last year. Next time, I vow to let Mrs. Claus take that family photo. 😉

PS: Solo Snaps is a series I started to try to capture the stories behind my photos. My original thought was they’d offer some insights on my status as a solo gal (that’s code for therapy I don’t pay anyone for). But I have found over the past year that ruminating on being solo isn’t where I want to spend my time. My favorite photos weren’t shot when I was by myself, it turns out. And even if they were, forcing a “this is the meaning I must find when I’m alone” moment into every photo is trying too hard. So this might be my last “Solo Snaps” post. But it won’t be my last post about my pictures, no siree. You can’t escape that easily, dear readers.  

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The Return to Delicate Arch, plus a visit Goblin Valley State Park (and other places)

Back in May of this year, I traveled for a brief weekend of hiking and exploring in Utah, where my friend Shawn lives. It’s odd that I haven’t written much about it yet. This week, while talking to my parents, who are out in that same area having an epic vacation, I suddenly felt the desire to write about that little trip.

It started with a bit of a meltdown on a short hike called The Living Room in Salt Lake City, but that’s a story I’ve already told. This post is about the next few days, which were full of great views, adventures and some (well, ok, a lot) of introspection.

The morning after the Living Room we drove up into Big Cottonwood Canyon, not too far outside of the city, to do a short and easy hike called Donut Falls. It’s apparently quite popular in all seasons based on it’s easiness, and I got a huge kick out of doing it in the snow (the first snow I’d seen, really, since leaving Boston). When we got to the falls, they were covered in snow and ice and we got to show off our microspikes, which earned us some admiring/envious looks from our fellow sneaker-clad adventurers. We climbed up to an opening in the ice where we could see a tiny portion of the falls, but really what was remarkable was that we were actually climbing on top of the falls.

I am literally standing on the falls for this picture, looking back the way we came.

It was a lovely, sunny day, and the trek back down, wearing our spikes, zoomed by in a flash. 

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Next we drove out to Antelope Island State Park, which is on the Great Salt Lake. This was the first time I’d seen the Lake, and it didn’t disappoint in terms of views.

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It did disappoint, however, in its overwhelmingly annoying no-seeum infestation; we tried to walk down to see some wildlife but bailed because we were getting chewed up by those little bastard bugs.

So it was back to the city for us, where we had some tasty barbeque and did a rare thing, for us, anyway; we chose not to do another hike and instead watched a movie, drank beer and enjoyed some homemade cobbler. My flatlander legs appreciated the leisure time.

The next day, we headed south to Moab. I’m pretty sure this portion of the trip was accomplished under protest from Shawn’s point of view, but he had little choice as I was determined to visit Arches National Park (one of my favorite places on earth) and find redemption at the Delicate Arch.

See, on our first big adventure together back in 2016, we’d ended our trip at Arches, and after a long day of hiking, decided to try to get to the Delicate Arch at sunset. We started too late, and I was really tired, so I sent Shawn ahead and the long and short of it is that we got separated. I took the established route and he, well, lets just say he found his own way.  We both made it up, though we missed each other at the top, and while I managed to pick my way back down the trail in the pitch black (headlamp for the win), by the time I got back to the nearly empty parking lot –alone– my imagination had started conjuring bad scenarios, many of which involved me having to tell the rangers that I had no idea where in the Utah desert my friend was. The story ends happily, as he made it down soon after I did,  and didn’t seem fazed in the slightest.

So, I suspect he was doing a fair bit of eye-rolling as we climbed up the trail in the blazing midday sun, with me generously narrating my previous experience (this is where I saw you veer off to the right, and I wondered where you were going, etc), The trail seemed far less intimidating in the daylight, and it’s also worth noting that my level of confidence while hiking has grown since that evening in 2016.

Anyway, we got to enjoy the beauty of the Delicate Arch, together, without any drama this time, and that was all I wanted.

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A pasta lunch/dinner in Moab was next, and then we headed west into the nothingness to visit Goblin Valley State Park. We drove through some of the most remote country I’d ever seen, the kind that makes you want to check that you have gas in your tank.

Goblin Valley as the sun set felt like being on another planet. Indeed, sci-fi movies had been shot there in the past, and you can see why.

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We had hoped to camp at the State Park, but the campground was full. Somehow Shawn knew that there was a primitive campground on nearby BLM land, and we headed just a few miles from the park and pitched our tents in a canyon. We were not alone; there were other folks camping there, and an RV park about a mile away with a bathroom if we’d needed it, but it was still pretty isolated.

We laughed at how poorly we’d prepared for this part of the adventure; no firewood, no marshmallows, no beer, but we made the best of it, setting up our chairs and just sitting for hours as twilight turned to dusk, watching the millions of stars start to appear overhead. It got chilly enough that I wished for a blanket, but my towel made a nice substitute. Conversation, in a setting like that, takes on a certain sheen of whimsy and mystery. In the silences, I pondered why I seem to connect with this part of the country so much; it’s odd, considering that my ancestors came from another continent entirely. There were so many stars, flitting in and out of view as the occasional cloud glided by. It was a lovely night, my first camping in a remote place like that, and I hope it’s not the last.

The next morning, we ate rehydrated food for breakfast and set out for Capitol Reef National Park. It was a glorious day, but all the travel and the bug bites were taking their toll, and we were a little tired. I don’t have a lot of sharp memories of our first hike up to Hickman Bridge (but I do remember these pretty orange flowers):

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We drove through a green and glorious valley where Mormons had settled, en route to an 8 mile adventure hiking the Grand Wash (2 miles of flat in a canyon) and then up to Cassidy Arch and then back out again. The sun beat down on us for most of this hike, so we were pretty spent when it was over.

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This arch is named after Butch Cassidy, for some reason. It takes about 1000 feet of sleep hiking, over a couple of miles, to get to it.

As a sign that we’re either getting older or wiser (even odds, I’d say), we decided to pack it in and head back to Salt Lake City after a late lunch and about a gallon of water.

The next day I headed back to Virginia, but not before we decided to walk to get pizza, and ended up trekking a mile back in the pouring rain. Always an adventure, I guess. Next time, we’ll just get takeout.

Fear…on the trail and elsewhere

I found this post from early 2017 that I never published. Here it is for your reading pleasure, with an addendum for 2019. -Jodi

Yesterday, I was out for a walk with Sadie in the giant Arboretum near our Boston apartment. It’s honestly one of my favorite places on earth. It’s been around since the 1800s, and it contains trees and plants and shrubs from all over the world. There’s a mix of paved and dirt paths, hills, magical glades where the sun creates fairy havens, and huge, huge trees that seem to beg to be listened to.

On nice days, it’s full of people of all sizes and shapes, and more than a few nationalities. Most everyone is friendly, because, really, if you’re out for a walk in the Arb, you’re being healed by nature, no questions asked.

So, yesterday, Sadie and I were strolling along, and I noticed two elderly, white-haired ladies walking ahead of me. They were chatting merrily away and as they moved aside to let us pass, I heard one say to the other:

“Ooh, look at that tree. That looks like something you’d see in Spooky Hollow.”

Charmed, I turned to them with a big smile and said, “I was once walking in here at night and I heard owls hooting to each other across the path.”

Some of you might be wondering at this slightly odd entry into the conversation of perfect strangers, but those who know me well know that this is a perfectly normal segue for my mind to make: I heard the word “spooky” and I immediately remembered the most spooky moment I’ve had in that space and decided to share it. They didn’t call me “storyteller” on my college volleyball team for nothing, folks.

For the record, this odd conversational habit of mine is probably why I will never be a great front-line fundraiser; my conversations always veer just a bit too far off the beaten path. But I digress (thus proving my point). Interestingly, the two ladies chose their own path for the conversation to take, and it wasn’t where I expected it to go. Almost in unison, they gasped, and one said:

“Oh my! Why would you ever be in here at night?”

I blinked. The truth was, the night I’d been talking about was the night of the Super Moon, and the only way I would have gotten to see it was if I was walking in the Arb, at night. I immediately started to justify myself: it was sunset, I was walking home fast, I was being careful.  I glanced down at Sadie, and as if reading my mind, the 2nd lady said “Well, you have a dog, that’s something, but even then, you shouldn’t do that. You can’t trust ANYONE these days.”

Gone was our charmed little moment about the spooky woods, and I was left feeling like I’d failed somehow. I remembered reading, just the day before, this article about women backpacking alone in the wilderness, and I had that familiar flash of anger unique to the chronically single – that desire to shoot back, childishly: “well, some of us don’t have a CHOICE but to walk alone, at night or otherwise.”

And then, of course, because, well, it’s what I do, I started to wonder at the nature of fear. I once heard a TED talk about how our brains – stuck in the past – are wired for fighting predators who literally wanted to kill and eat us. However, because we aren’t in the physical danger our cavewomen predecessors were in, we fear everything with a surge of adrenaline usually reserved for life-threatening situations.

And then, of course, I thought of FDR’s famous line from his first inaugural:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

By the way, the full speech is worth a read in light of our current political situation; I found it fascinating and eerily familiar.

And finally, yesterday I spent nearly an hour looking at photos and reading blog posts about a particularly challenging hike in Zion National Park that I’ll be tackling on a trip out West in the next few weeks. Some of the photos made my stomach jump in the way it does on rollercoasters and at the edges of vast canyons. I have every intention of doing the hike, but I won’t deny it’s giving me a little thrill of fear.

So it was with all of these thoughts zipping around the neurons of my brain that I set out with Sadie for a short hike today. See, on this upcoming trip, there will be lots of hiking and exploring happening at high altitudes, and, well, I get nervous that I won’t be able to keep up. Which is silly, really, but…see previous note about how the brain messes with us.

It was an icy, blustery couple of miles on the trail. I wanted to get some elevation under my legs, so I had a 4-mile route in mind, up and down a bunch of gnarly hills in the Blue Hills Reservation. I also wanted to test out my new trekking poles, and give Sadie some exercise, and gain more confidence in my boots (and myself) to handle snow and ice. It was a tall order for a little hike.

The first part of the trek was great – up a bit of a slippery, snowy slope that I was able to do steadily, with minimal gasping for breath, and both legs and boots seemed up to the task – excellent. Before I knew it, we were at the Observation Tower, looking down on the world, with the Boston skyline on the horizon.

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Then, we headed toward the tougher part of the trail, a steep downhill scramble that, even without snow and ice, usually takes me a while to navigate down. I knew my proposed route would have a bunch of such up and downs. The ups didn’t scare me, but the downs did. My recently ordered microspikes haven’t arrived yet, and I was just too intimidated by the slope and loose snow/ice. So I turned around and headed back down the relatively easier slope that I’d come up.

What’s the moral of this narrative? Well, I guess it’s that sometimes, fear does win out. I did wonder if those little old ladies had gotten into my head and scared my mojo away. But nah, I don’t think so. I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone today, and there was a way to respectably turn back, so I took it. See, I think there are times when it’s right to let fear make you cautious. On an icy hill is one of them. Walking home through a park as the sun goes down? I’m not sure. I know the stories. I’ve heard my whole life that women should never-walk-alone-carry-pepper-spray-grasp-keys-between-your-fingers-be-alert-know-your-surroundings- don’t-wear-headphones-don’t-have-long-hair-keep-your-shoulders-back-be-ready-to-run…and most of us do this.  But I don’t see how we can live our lives as if we can’t trust ANYONE. Especially my solo gals out there. It’s hardest for us because we can’t just grab our partner by the hand and magically be less of a target.

I guess I’d chosen to take the chance, to hear the delightfully spooky owls hooting to each other over my head as I watched the super moon peer out from the trees. I guess it was worth the risk. I guess we all have to make those choices for ourselves. And accept the consequences.

Addendum for 2019:

Since I wrote this, much has changed in the life of Jodi. At this point, 2017 was a young year, and full of promise. Up until November of that year, things went smashingly, and then began more than a year of stress that took it’s toll on me, my mind, and my body. But I’ve turned the corner, and am proud to say that I’ve done a ton more things that scared me since this old post. I hiked Angels Landing, the hike mentioned above, squeezed through slot canyons in Utah, clambered around waterfalls and up cliffs in Maine, and rambled all over Canada, including briefly hiking alone in bear country.

Yes, I carried bear spray on that hike. Yes, there were likely times that I chose not to do something because I was too scared. And the other night, when I decided to run on a trail in a nearby park without Sadie, I still felt the need to text a friend and let her know where I was. These things are common sense, I think, because I still feel as I did that night in the Arb. There are too many adventures to be had to consider not doing them simply because sometimes, there’s just the one of me.

 

 

On top of the world: The Sulpher Skyline Trail

There was a moment during my recent hiking trip to Canada when I found myself asking an important existential question.

Do I even like hiking?

See, as regular blog readers will know, I tend to have the occasional meltdown while climbing up hills (see this post from back in May). I worked hard before this trip to prepare – as best I could while living at sea level – in the hopes that I could avoid the meltdowns of hikes past. I was more or less successful. Still slow, still doubtful at times, but there were no tears shed on the trail this time around.

But there were definitely a couple of moments, on steep uphills, moving at a pace less than that of a snail, when I wondered if my legs would make it, when I questioned my overall sanity. Had I tricked myself all these years? Was I seduced by the fun of buying gear, by the buzz of planning a trip, by the promise of a great photo?

Was I a giant fraud selling myself as a “hiker”, when really I’m just a person who likes to take long walks in nature?

On the eve of our 4th hike, I tried to fall asleep, stomach jumping. We’d had a lovely day, starting with 6ish miles on the Edith Cavell Meadows trail, which featured more elevation than my sea level legs had seen in a looooong time. We’d been rained on, and shrouded in a fast-moving mist that wiped out all visibility beyond 5 feet. That mist had cleared, leaving us with incredible views of snowy mountains. We’d seen marmots and a strange-looking pigeon, lots of mountain wildflowers, plus a glacier ! and its associated pools/waterfalls. We’d added a few more flattish miles en route to gazing at rushing waterfalls, enjoyed a marvelous dinner, and now were cozy in our cabin, resting up for an early start the next day.

But I couldn’t sleep.

See, Shawn had warned me that the Sulpher Skyline Trail, our next hike, would be steeper than we’d faced previously, with another steep summit. I had visions of several miles of serious uphill, and I had serious doubts about my ability to actually make it to the top.

When I woke the next morning, anxiety had settled into my stomach, but I was also resigned to the real fact that we were doing this hike, and there was no going back. At the start of the trail, I set my shoulders, preparing for humiliation and embarrassment and hoping I’d be able to keep it together. As we started out, on a gently sloping paved path, I forced my legs to move slowly, at a deliberately measured pace, in the hopes of saving some juice for the steep parts. Which I knew were just around the corner.

As a couple of kilometers fell away, and the slopes remained manageable, I found myself daring to hope that I might make it through without too much struggle. Then I ruthlessly quashed such nonsense, because surely the really steep part was coming soon. Up we went, switchback after switchback, and while I had to stop occasionally to catch my breath and give my legs a breather, it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined.

At one point, Shawn said “Hey, we’re almost there!” and I shot back “Don’t do that! I know there’s worse to come!” But a few minutes later, we popped out of the trees and beheld the magnificent views of the pre-summit clearing.  Oh, those views. They were wonderful. And we weren’t even at the top.

Now, at this point, it got steep, for real. But that was to be expected, and the realization that I’d gotten through the bulk of the hike in relatively good form was heady.

I won’t lie, it took me a long while to climb up the final bit to the summit, but we made it eventually, and the payoff…well…see for yourself.

The purple and blue haziness of that valley view…honestly, I never wanted to leave. The summit was fairly busy with other people, but the vibe was happy and chill and everyone was proud to have gotten to the top. At one point I said to myself “I can’t get enough of this.” A total stranger overheard me and said “Yeah, well, you earned it.” All I could do was grin at him.

And at that moment, I realized that I really do like hiking. I might have less love for hiking uphill for extended periods of serious steepness, but being a flatlander, I have decided to forgive myself for that weakness.

Because, standing in places like this, looking out upon a grandeur that very few people get to see in person, and knowing I got there by the power of my own two (admittedly tired) legs…that’s pretty damn cool.

And as a wise man once said “50% of mountaineering is downhill.” And I dig me some downhill.

PS: As usual, a big shout out to Shawn for being an awesome hiking partner who never, ever makes me feel bad for stopping to “admire the view”.

Hold on, little girl…

This one might ramble a bit, because it’s been a while and I’m feeling rambly.

I have a 5-year-old niece; let’s call her C. She’s an incredible child (how could she not be, coming from such excellent stock?). Smart as can be, curious, a champion reader (again, natch, given her family), long-legged, prone to shrieking, possessing of endless energy, manipulative, maddening and altogether, well, FIVE.

I was a little sad that she wasn’t into the Women’s World Cup recently, but given her opinion of football – “it’s just a bunch of running and it’s boring” (and that was American football she was referring to) – that’s to be expected. She preferred to create her own parade around the house, only diverting her route away from blocking the TV after repeated admonishments.

But I wanted her to see those women play together – proudly, fiercely, unapologetically – and I wanted her to see them win. In all their purple-haired glory.

Women’s issues…those have been a slow and hard challenge for me. I am wary, perhaps too much so, of being influenced by the unrelenting agendas of the media and the political parties and the corporations in our country, all of whom make it their life’s work to manipulate our thoughts and emotions. But after reading and trying to “do my research” I can’t shy away from the fact that women, as an entity, still have a ways to go to shake off the reigns of a misogynistic history. Sure, there’s been progress. But we still get paid less than men on average, and as for all the justifications of that? They are justifications but that doesn’t mean they are ok. We still die in childbirth at alarming rates, particularly black women. It’s been a mere century since we were “granted” the right to vote…which puts to rest any theory that “all men are created equal” really meant “mankind.” 1 in 4 of us are sexually assaulted at some point in our lives, and based on the experiences of my female friends, I’d wager that number is too low. I could go on, but most of you reading this will have heard all of this before. That’s not my point.

My point is that my niece is 5 years old, and already I can see it at work on her. Or maybe not so much on her, but on her parents, who are trying to raise a vivacious, demanding, bossy little girl who can grow into a strong, independent woman…while also trying to teach her the values of caring, kindness and quiet.

Example 1: I recently gifted C a new toy, donated to me by a friend who was housecleaning. She was exploring the toy, enjoying herself, and then she eyed a piece of the equipment that didn’t make sense. We watched as she puzzled it out. She knew we were watching, and after a couple of fruitless minutes, she set the toy down and huffed “I’m done with that.” We grownups all looked at each other in both amusement and dismay. Embarrassment at being unable to figure it out…at the age of FIVE?! Luckily, she has great parents and they talked her through it, but oh my sweet girl it’s too early to be embarrassed for not being able to figure something out. I’m sure that someone will tell me that’s a part of life, and it is. But it took me decades to be able to be ok with not knowing things, and I just want to fast-forward through all that self-consciousness and self-doubt for her.

To be blunt, part of me wants C to grow up not giving a damn what anyone thinks. Because caring what people think is exhausting. But the rational part of me knows that I also want her to be self-aware, kind and compassionate, because that’s how she’ll find real satisfaction in life.

Which brings me to Example 2. Whenever my toddler nephew comes to visit, all objects within reach of his grabby little hands have to be placed out harm’s way. It’s C’s job to help with that whenever they come to visit. As she was moving things, one at a time, from the TV console shelves to the table, she came across my super old, reconstructed Outward Bound mug. She picked it up carefully and set it safely down, and I heard her murmur, almost to herself, “It’s only a little bit cracked.”

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For some reason, my heart gave a squeeze at those words. Because that mug is more than a little bit cracked; it’s a mess, held together with superglue and a prayer. I don’t know if her quiet little comment was for me or just an idle observation. Maybe she really thought it was just a little crack. Maybe not. But what I saw, in that moment, was my little niece trying to figure out how something like that – something broken and imperfect – could be valuable. It was a flash of the compassionate and loving person that I know she will grow up to be. And that our harsh, still-misogynistic world will do it’s best to defeat, in all the nefarious ways that keep cropping up each time we make a change for the better.

And thus we come back to those American women winning the World Cup. Who yes, had some privileges and advantages in their lives, but who also worked their asses off and did it as a team. They had different ideas, different beliefs, different hair, different sexual orientations, and maybe even different politics, but they still existed as a team and they set their goal and won it. They gave girls and boys everywhere the gift of seeing women playing a sport, playing it well, and celebrating their accomplishments. All while trying to actually do something more than “stick to soccer.” And all while millions of people tried to devalue their accomplishment with a deluge of criticisms.

I hope they are back in another 4 years. Maybe then C will be ready to pay more attention. Or maybe they’ll rise to the forefront of more than sports. Maybe C will grow up thinking nothing is odd about outspoken female athletes who challenge the status quo. That would be awesome. I say we keep working toward that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Google “where can I watch women’s soccer on tv?”